Civic-military dictatorship of Uruguay

Civic-military dictatorship of Uruguay
Dictadura cívico-militar en Uruguay
1973–1985
Motto
"Libertad o Muerte" (Spanish)
"Freedom or Death"
CapitalMontevideo
LanguagesSpanish
GovernmentMilitary dictatorship
President
 • 1973–1976Juan María Bordaberry
 • 1976Alberto Demicheli
 • 1976–1981Aparicio Méndez
 • 1981–1985Gregorio Conrado Álvarez
Historical eraCold War
 • EstablishedJune 27, 1973
 • DisestablishedMarch 1, 1985
CurrencyUruguayan peso
Succeeded by
Uruguay

The civic-military dictatorship of Uruguay (1973–85), also known as the Uruguayan Dictatorship, was an authoritarian military dictatorship that ruled Uruguay for 12 years, from June 27, 1973 (after the 1973 coup d'état) until February 28, 1985. The dictatorship has been the subject of much controversy due to its violations of human rights, use of torture, and the unexplained disappearances of many Uruguayans.[1] The term "civic-military" refers to the military regime's initial use of a relatively powerless civilian president as the head of state, which distinguished it from dictatorships in other South American countries in which senior military officers immediately seized power and directly served as head of state.

The dictatorship was the culmination of an escalation of violence and authoritarism in a traditionally peaceful and democratic country, and exist within the context of other military dictatorships in the region. It resulted in the suppression of all former political activity, including the traditional political parties. Many people were imprisoned and tortured, especially members of the Left.[2]

Political situation in Uruguay

The slow road to dictatorship started in late 1960s. Between 1952 and 1967, the country experimented with a collective presidency. The National Council of Government had nine members, six from the majority party and three from the opposition. That provided for a weak leadership during worsening economic situation in the country. After the re-establishment of the Presidency, the new President Óscar Diego Gestido, in December 1967, banned the Socialist Party of Uruguay. To suppress leftist activists, President Jorge Pacheco Areco (1967–1972) banned leftist political parties and their newspapers, purged liberal professors from universities, and suppressed labor unions. His repressive politics as well as the crisis in economy and high inflation fueled social conflict and guerrilla Tupamaro activities. On June 13, 1968, Pacheco declared a state of emergency. More states of emergency was declared in August 1970, after Tupamaros killed US security expert Dan Mitrione, and in January 1971, when they kidnapped UK ambassador Geoffrey Jackson. When more than 100 Tupamaros escaped from jail, on September 9, 1971 Pacheco, ordered the army to suppress all guerrilla activities.[3] To coordinate their anti-guerrilla actions, the armed forces created Junta de Comandates en Jefe which was the first military coordination body independent of the usual Ministry of Defense oversight. Later, it evolved into Estado Mayour Conjunto (ESMACO).[4]

Between 1968 and 1971, expenses on military doubled from 13.3% of the budget to 26.2% while expenses on education fell from 24.3% to 16%.[5]

In November 1971, general elections were held. In response to Pacheco's effort to change the constitution and to run for re-election, leftist parties created Broad Front. In the controversial election, Wilson Ferreira Aldunate won more votes than the Pacheco's handpicked successor and the eventual winner of the elections, Juan María Bordaberry, from the Colorado Party.[6] Immediately, Bordaberry was perceived as a weak president.